Corey Mellick, CEO at Amplifi
In our gut, we know the answer is yes, but our management wants more than gut; they want some specifics. At a high level, some of the benefits of MDM include:
MDM supports all this and much more, and who doesn’t want a flexible system of accurate, consistent master data readily available to business users to help with critical decisions? We all do. But often we find internal MDM advocates get stuck going to the next level of detail, and, as a result, the project never quite gets off the ground.
We have seen it time again. An internal enthusiast is presenting a case for MDM, highlighting the strategic value of MDM, when someone in the audience rains on the parade by asking “… that all sounds good, but how does it help us, specifically”. The answer to that question is somewhat unique to each company, but it is readily available. All you need to do is ask the people in the company whose job is affected by data, which is probably most people and track some of their responses to the root data issue.
We were working with a Fortune 500 CPG company with a 100+ year heritage. We began by identifying several of the critical information flows within the organization, then we interviewed various individuals in that flow. Here’s just a sampling of how that played out.
“Trucks are being stopped at the Mexico border due to data accuracy issues.”
“Our product shipments are getting rejected by customs because of bad data.”
“We can’t audit 3PL invoices because our measurement and weight data are less accurate than theirs.”
Bad data was jamming up the supply chain between this manufacturer and its customers. Digging into the root causes, we found weights and measures were entered multiple times, independently. Some would round the numbers, and others would carry the decimals out multiple places. A unit variance of .1 ounce doesn’t seem like much until you multiply it by a truckload. In this case, there weren’t just delays, but they were also experiencing significant fines that they just accepted as a cost of doing business. They could have justified the MDM investment in this area alone.
“We’ve started an Amazon program, but we are submitting products 3 and 4 times because the data keeps getting rejected.”
“We’re concerned that many of our products are showing up online with incorrect product names, poor descriptions, and even incorrect branding. Stuff like that hurts our brand.”
“People delete or change a product code with no knowledge of the impact to someone else globally who may be using that code.”
This is another set of valuable insights. All are examples of data actually hindering sales for a company with over $10B in sales, doing business in over 70 countries. The most minute improvement could be very dramatic. Even if an MDM program did nothing more than give Product Marketing 5% more time to devote to marketing product versus fighting data the potential return is tremendous.
“I don’t understand how to populate the data fields correctly, nor can I tell you the impact of incorrectly populating them. If we get it wrong, eventually someone will just have us correct it.”
“We use spreadsheets to capture vendor data because our system (SAP) doesn’t have the right fields.”
“Unfortunately, a lot of our data is entered manually by people who lack the training and business knowledge.”
That’s right, over $10B in sales with manual data entry and spreadsheet master files. Now we’re getting at some of the systemic issues MDM can address. We can ensure data is entered correctly, we can develop and manage policies, we can capture and manage incremental data, and we can do it all up front before we hit some of the downstream impacts outlined here.
So in the case of this company, as is the fact with most – yes, MDM can help with many data related issues that are impacting the business today. The challenge is that, too often, the tactical is obvious to us as MDM enthusiasts and we are more excited about the profound impact MDM can have on the company. We see the forest, and we forget that some of the execs want to see some trees. It’s why we take a very deliberate approach to MDM. We like to design and implement a vision that delivers game-changing results while demonstrating tactical wins along the way.